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<nettime-ann> Norwayweb
bjørn magnhildøen on Tue, 8 Jan 2008 10:43:59 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime-ann> Norwayweb

- information workshop

In this project "Norwayweb" we're gonna have a closer look at
something called "web-scraping"(1). (In norwegian one might call it
"vevskraping"(2) and thus put it into an artisan tradition, and then
it turns out to be not entirely random that the expression can seem to
liken a wowen carpet. Now you all will have the opportunity to make
this carpet.

Let's see, instead of textile material we'll use public information,
and for each knot in the weaving, to call it that, we'll use a
norwegian tax payer(3). The carpet then will be around 4 millions
(inhabitants of the Kingdom of Norway). It will take some time to
complete it, around 23 days if one weaves continuously. It takes
around half a second to weave in a new point. Each point contains
name, age, dwelling, income, fortune, and tax information. The carpet
is too big to be shown in its full size, circa 1 giga. Furthermore,
this is a workshop where the participants will create their own piece
of the carpet, that's to say, weave new tax payers into the carpet.
The way you can participate is to go to
http://noemata.anart.no/norgesveven/ . You will then see some running
numbers, and it's you who make them while you're watching. Each number
is a person (tax payer/zero tax payer) who is added to the database
which is the carpet. When the number reaches 3943077 the carpet is
finished. If you view the artwork for half a minute you have inserted
information about around 60 persons into it. The work needs around 555
hours of viewing to be completed. When you work/view the carpet you
can also take a look on the backside - browse the numbers/tax payers
and see how they are doing.

Distributed computing
We figured that the work will be faster done if we let others to the
work with us. In addition, it's nice to share the responsibility since
webscraping is a dirty job in many people's view, and maybe at the
fringe of law.

Visualization and combinatorics
These two topics are in a way complementary, the more complex
something is, the harder it is to visualize it. And the complexity in
combinatoric material increases dramatically. For example, we imagined
that it would be done fast to scrape together this information about 4
million people, since every request and response takes about half a
second. But the answer is 23 days of contiuous scraping. So we made
the project into a workshop where everyone has to work and nobody gets
paid, but on the other hand one can work with other people's money.
It's funny to see/visualize the set of 4 millions, 3943077 is very
easy to write. The problem with our numbering system is that we don't
really understand it - 3943077 looks like 7 things, that's 7. In the
same way with TV, there are only 7 things in the world, or just enough
to fill the news. The more visual our world, the poorer. On the other
hand combinatorics is a monster - in our carpet you have to relate to
a new person for every half second, 3943077 is a crazy sequence of
meaningless numbers. One thing we don't understand with the numbering
system is that 654861 is part of 3943077, that's strange, but in the
same way the world consists of ten thousand things while it might be a
part of a single thing - God. God is a visualization like art.
Webscraping can make us understand the world as God understands the
world, as an image of a wowen carpet made in a combinatorical
workshop. "As" is maybe the true name of God(4). It's clear that an
image can be deceiving and treacherous, but an image can also be
uncovering and add to our knowledge. Information in the beginning
meant something else. The world is without form and like a monster in
a legend. Is the formless the form or the content of the project? A
carpet is a well-defined and cosy form. Each knot is a new combination
and content. But

Recent information from the carpet

172848 172849 172850 172851 172852 172853 172854 172855 172856 172857
172858 172859 172860 172861 172862 172863 172864 172865 172866 172867
172868 172869 172870 172871 172872 172873 172874 172875 172876 172877
172878 172879 172880 172881 172882 172883 172884 172885 172886 172887
172888 172889 172890 172891 172892 172893 172894 172895 172896 172897
172898 172899 172900 172901 172902 172903 172904 172905 172906 172907
172908 172909 172910 172911 172912 172913 172914 172915 172916 172917
172918 172919 172920 172921 172922 172923 172924 172925 172926 172927
172928 172929 172930 172931 172932 172933 172934 172935 172936 172937
172938 172939 172940 172941 172942 172943 172944 172945 172946 172947
172948 172949 172950 172951 172952 172953 172954 172955 172956 172957
172958 172959 172960 172961 172962 172963 172964 172965 172966 172967
172968 172969 172970 172971 172972 172973 172974 172975 172976 172977
172978 172979 172980 172981 172982 172983 172984 172985 172986 172987
172988 172989 172990 172991 172992 172993 172994 172995 172996 172997
172998 172999 173000 173001 173002 173003 173004 173005 173006 173007
173008 173009 173010 173011 173012 173013 173014 173015 173016 173017
173018 173019 173020 173021 173022 173023 173024 173025 173026 173027
173028 173029 173030 173031 173032 173033 173034 173035 173036 173037
173038 173039 173040 173041 173042 173043 173044 173045 173046 173047
173048 173049 173050 173051 173052 173053 173054 173055 173056 173057
173058 173059 173060 173061 173062 173063 173064 173065 173066 173067
173068 173069 173070 173071 173072 173073 173074 173075 173076 173077
173078 173079 173080 173081 173082 173083 173084 173085 173086

Meditation over number
If you look at the last number, 173086, each other number is contained
in this number, even if they are so many and different. If you for
example have to answer a question about numbers and don't know the
answer, you might answer a very large number, because the right answer
is probably a part of that number, so then your answer contains the
right answer. That's like saying the capital of Sweden is in
scandinavia. Well, we're now gonna proceed to more serious matters
concerning webscraping. First some practical issues, you can you PHP
and cURL to scrape the world wide web as it demands. Sensitive
information isn't always well protected. Tax information lists are
searchable on the net, but if you look closer it's easy to see that
All material is online - and not only "searchable" because one can
fetch everything in a systematic manner. In that way one can scrape
together the material like here and make a private "scrapebook"
database of all tax paying or no tax paying persons in Norway with
additional information. Very nice. The next step might be for the
right person to sell the information or rent it out and back to the
individual, maybe accompanied of the hell of ads. 4% finished.

Be there, waffles with strawberry jam in the breaks!

About the future
When the showing is finished, that's to say, when the woven carpet is
finished / the work on the carpet is finished, we'll put up a
"searchable" version of the carpet, called "science". That is, when
science is available the work and showing is finished. Work=showing.
And Science=search. We see how webscraping can be visualizing in
contemporary combinatorics. Now let's see, the man said, he fell down
from the church roof. "Georg Apenes, director of Datatilsynet,
described the situation of privacy like this under a lecture before
christmas: - If I believe privacy has a future? Undoubtedly. Just as
much as the panda as a future in the zoo"(5). See also the new data
storage directive(6) - the directive means long time storage of
information about who talks to who on home telephone, mobile phones,
and IP phones, how long the conversation lasted, where the parts were,
and when the conversation was held. Information about people's email
communication and when the're connected to the internet can also be
storaged. While the police earlier put goal-oriented tasks to
suspected individuals and groups, now the whole population will be

Well it remains to be said that "Norwayweb" is a work in the series
"Protocol Performance" realized 2007 with support from Norwegian
Cultural Council, section for art and new technology. Earlier work in
the series have been "Plaintext performance", "Chipertext
performance", "MidiEvent", "ppl", "faec", "Key Event".


Notes (mostly norwegian)
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_scraping
2. http://www.sprakrad.no/Ordboeker/Dataspraak/
3. http://www.skatteetaten.no
5. http://www.dagensit.no/trender/article1270919.ece
6. http://www.datatilsynet.no/templates/Page____2109.aspx
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